A Careful Reading of Chomsky and Pollin on Climate Change
Okay. Before there was "omigod we withdrew from Afghanistan!" and before there was "omigod aren't the statistics on COVID-19 horrible now!" there was the IPCC report. And with the IPCC report, there was an interview with Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin about the IPCC report, dramatizing the dangerous situation in which climate change is transforming the Earth as we speak. This is from Monday of this week -- under the current media dispensation it bizarrely counts as "old news."
Now, the spirit of this thing is something I agree with. The report puts a lot of faith into carbon capture and removal, a really shifty notion. And, yeah, Chomsky is right on this point:
We can have no faith in structures of power and what they will do unless pressed hard by an informed public that prefers survival to short-term gain for the “masters of the universe.”
But then when you get down to the Robert Pollin portion of this interview, in which we read, halfway down the page:
In the U.S., the Biden administration is, of course, a vast improvement relative to the four disastrous years under Trump.
Of course, Pollin has a justification for this statement. What follows is:
Soon after taking office, Biden set out emissions reduction targets in line with the IPCC, i.e., a 50 percent reduction by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050. Moreover, the American Jobs Plan that Biden introduced in March would have allocated about $130 billion per year in investments that would advance a clean energy infrastructure that would supplant our current fossil fuel-dominant system.
But upon reading this, one has to wonder if Pollin realized what he had previously said about Biden, which was:
The immediate U.S. government reaction to the IPCC report was hardly encouraging. President Joe Biden sent his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, to censure the main oil-producing countries (OPEC) for not raising oil production high enough.
Does Pollin not recognize that "emissions targets" are worth as much as the paper they're written on, no more and no less? And does Pollin realize that if Biden is putting pressure upon OPEC to extract more oil from the ground, that this is worse than mere climate change denial?
Are we better off under Biden, if the resultant policy mix makes smart people like Robert Pollin believe that Biden is "better" but also does nothing to mitigate climate change? Are we better off than we would be under Trump, given that when Trump was President at least the nice liberals with big egos were rightfully inflamed over the insanity of Trump's political positions?
I'm just going to leave it there.